Tag Archive: 1980s nostalgia


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Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind toys of the past, in 2019 the streaming service added a new series based on the same formula, The Movies That Made Us.  The series took a new look at four movies in four hour-long episodes in its first season, including Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and Dirty Dancing, followed by two holiday episodes featuring Elf and A Nightmare Before Christmas.  The Movies That Made Us isn’t really about the movies and their impact so much as what strange stories lie behind how the movies were created, from idea to release, including production foibles and hurdles.  The show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers, and it’s done it again with four new installments for its second season, featuring Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Park, and Forrest GumpAnd new episodes are on their way featuring Aliens, Coming to America, and RoboCop, and October staples A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th,and Halloween.

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

Blumhouse introduced a new twist on the 1977-1984 series Fantasy Island in 2020 with a feature film version starring Michael Peña  (Ant-Man), leaning into a darker, horror take on its story. ABC tried a reboot in 1998, starring Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations, Heroes). This week a new series emerges on Fox, entirely separate (or is it?) from the 2020 movie, but landing a perfect opener that is perfectly faithful to Ricardo Montalban’s classic weekly anthology showcase, an episode that would qualify among the top of the original series’ best stories.  This time it’s the talented Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace, Kojak, Dragnet, Telenovela, Rush Hour 2), whose beauty, charisma, and talent are more than worthy of her iconic, suave, Latin predecessor.  Miss Elena Roarke is not a descendant of Mr. Roarke, but a great niece of the former ambassador of the island.  The update is as much homage as sequel, a fine balance that miraculously gets it all right, with an updated feel that is modern and even fun, like the long-running BBC series Death in Paradise (which follows a fish-out-of-water detective and his staff on another island paradise also encountering newcomers aka guest stars in each new episode).  As with Montalban’s Fantasy Island, character actors from television’s past, present, and maybe even future, should all be scrabbling to get a part on this new incarnation of the series.

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Ghostbusters novelization

Review by C.J. Bunce

The most eagerly awaited movie of 2021 is also the most eagerly awaited movie of 2020.  That’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct sequel to Ghostbusters I and 2, slated for release in theaters November 11, 2021, after multiple delays.  Will it actually happen?  Who knows.  But while you’re waiting, you can get your fix of those days of Ghostbusters past while you’re at the beach, soaking in the sun with the original novelizations thanks to a new reprint combo from Titan Books, Ghostbusters: The Original Novelizations of Ghostbusters 1 and 2.  For anyone who has only watched the movies, you can gain a little more insight to the characters, many who will be back in the new movie.

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Bustin’ makes me feel good.

The most exciting movie of the year now has tie-in toys, and an early look at the toys appears to telegraph the return of three original Ghostbusters donning their garb again.  That’s Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson, clearly featured as part of several toys coming from Hasbro and other brands for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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Hasbro is offering a line of line up higher end figures, the Plasma Series (available here for pre-order now) featuring characters from the 2021 film, including Trevor, Lucky, Podcast, Peter, Winston, and Ray.

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Check out more new Ghostbusters: Afterlife toys, including a new Clue below…

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The kids aren’t all right because they released something vile from this old well…

The most exciting trailer this year comes from a film Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray have been interviewed about since Ghostbusters II.  Taking a cue from Halloween, Predator, and Terminator, the franchise did some skipping of reboots and made Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II.  The lead role is for Mckenna Grace, who has appeared in lots of genre films and shows (Ready Player One, Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain Marvel, and horror franchises: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Annabelle, Amityville, and Hill House).  In a nice nod to the late, great comedy writer and Ghostbusters co-star and writer Harold Ramis, Grace and Stranger Things co-star Finn Wolfhard (who wore his own Ghostbusters suit in his series) will play the grandkids of Ramis’s Dr. Egon Spengler.  Shifting to a prairie setting from the city, the tone feels more like the creepy and cool Stranger ThingsAnnie Potts’s return is refreshing in this trailer, along with (at least) the voice of Dan Aykroyd.

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Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) plays the grade school teacher, and the kids’ mom is played by Carrie Coon, who played the creepy antagonist in the second season of Sinner as well as in Thanos’ army in Avengers: Infinity War.  Plus Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Gozer-everyone but Rick Moranis–have been confirmed for at least a cameo.  And there’s an El Camino and the return of the Ecto-1 with some extra features, and no doubt some animated series tie-ins and Easter eggs.  What more could you want?

Check out the new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg didn’t get paid for the screenplay for the new Netflix kids’ adventure movie Finding ‘Ohana, they should.  Usually an homage borrows bits and pieces from the source material.  Finding ‘Ohana is different–it is a remake (albeit unofficial remake) of the 1985 classic coming of age adventure The Goonies, updated to bring it into the 21st century and change the setting from Oregon to Hawaii.  ‘Ohana, which you’ll know from previous Hawaii-themed series and movies, means family, which reflects the film’s theme of Hawaiian culture and families reunited.  Ultimately the effort is a mixed bag–a movie that could be great fun for younger kids, but will make everyone else crave the movies it pulls its ideas from.

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

You could have guessed from the trailers that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island would cross the original 1977-1984 series with Black Mirror, but could you have guessed it’s also a sort of mash-up with The Dark Crystal and The Hobbit?  Bloodshot, Kick-Ass 2, and Bates Motel writer Jeff Wadlow directs an unexpected twist on the original series, proving such a reboot that respects the source material and takes advantage of a big movie budget can be successful, even without original show staples like Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize.  One of the stronger attempts and biggest successes at remaking a classic TV series, Fantasy Island is now streaming on Starz and other platforms.

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If you want to see how much the 1980s-inspired Stranger Things has worked itself into the 21st century zeitgeist, you need only turn to the last three big studio trailers revealed over the past three days.  Make no mistake, if Stranger Things isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread it’s pretty close, full of fun characters and great riffs on some of our favorite bits of nostalgia.  So why shouldn’t everything and everyone try to get on the bandwagon?

The most exciting trailer comes from a film Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray have been interviewed about since Ghostbusters II.  Taking a cue from Halloween, Predator, and Terminator, the franchise is doing some skipping of reboots and making Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II.  The lead role will be played by young (perfectly cast) Mckenna Grace, who has appeared in lots of genre films and shows (Ready Player One, Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain Marvel, and horror franchises: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Annabelle, Amityville, and Hill House).  In a nice nod to the late Ghostbusters co-star and writer Harold Ramis, she and Stranger Things co-star Finn Wolfhard (who wore his own Ghostbusters suit in his series) will play the grandkids of Ramis’s character, Dr. Egon Spengler.  Shifting to a prairie setting from the city, the tone feels more like the creepy and cool Netflix series in the first trailer, but it hints that slime-bearing apparitions we last saw in Manhattan will be showing their faces soon.  And a bonus: Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) plays the grade school teacher, and the kids’ mom is played by Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War).  Plus Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts–everyone but Rick Moranis–have been confirmed for at least a cameo.  And there’s an El Camino and the return of the Ecto-1.  What more could you want?

 

Along with Ghostbusters: Afterlife are new trailers for Wonder Woman 1984 and Free Guy.  As you’d guess from the title, Wonder Woman 1984 is also looking back to the 1980s, complete with a big shopping mall action scene like we saw this summer in Stranger Things.  It looks like it’s trying to be a Marvel movie, complete with a World War-era soldier named Steve (Chris Pine) making his return from the past to co-star and Gal Gadot back in her title role, making an Iron Man entrance.  The movie has a comedic actor starring as a kooky villain (Kristen Wiig), making it look like we’re going to get another Superman III–yet another 1980s thing.  The third movie in our Stranger Things vibe is Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds in a spin on the lead character of the LEGO movies–here he is a video game character as in the 1980s nostalgia-filled Ready Player One, a non-player character who decides he wants to be the hero.  The movie co-stars the guy who plays our favorite character in Stranger Things, Joe Keery.  It doesn’t look like Tron, but we’ll take it.

Check out these trailers with a Stranger Things vibe for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Wonder Woman 1984, and Free Guy:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind select high-profile toy lines of the past, this weekend the streaming provider added a new series based on the same formula.  The Movies That Made Us takes a four episode-per-season look at what someone somewhere thinks are important movies in the national consciousness.  The series arrives nicely timed, since season three of The Toys That Made Us already is showing signs the studio has run out of ideas.

Like The Toys That Made Us, the new series isn’t really about the subject of the series, instead taking viewers on a deep, dark dive into the business world of pop culture.  Like the first series, The Movies That Made Us has some fascinating gold nuggets.  It also has its problems.  The biggest issue being the odd introductory selection of movies, and the second, the glaring omission of key players viewers want to see interviewed for the stories.  As for the first issue, understandably the show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.  But it seems highly unlikely any single person, whether a movie buff or casual moviegoer, would put the following four movies on their list of must-see films: Dirty Dancing, Home Alone, Ghostbusters, and Die Hard As for the second problem, part of the issue is the series is too late to the table.  So many of the key players behind and in front of the camera in these films have died, like Ghostbusters writer/actor Harold Ramis, Dirty Dancing director Emile Ardolino and co-stars Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach, Home Alone writer John Hughes, and Die Hard actors Alan Rickman and Alexander Godunov and writer Roderick Thorp.  But people die and that shouldn’t hold up a good story, except that so many players that could have been interviewed who are living also didn’t participate.  A documentary about Dirty Dancing without star Jennifer Grey?  Die Hard without Bruce Willis?  Ghostbusters without Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, or Rick Moranis?  And the clincher… they couldn’t get Macauley Culkin, Joe Pesci, or Catherine O’Hara to say anything about Home Alone?

It really gets to the point of audience expectation.  Movie buffs will enjoy this series’ first season even if they didn’t care for the films, simply because it’s always going to be interesting for them to watch the wheeling and dealing of the studio machine told from the people who were there.  In that regard, the episodes about Dirty Dancing and Home Alone were entertaining by virtue of their tales of odd ideas that managed to emerge like the phoenix from dead deals to become major box office successes through a lot of luck and happenstance (told nicely in the episodes).  And the same was true for The Toys That Made Us, although after nine episodes an hour of the retired talking heads of Toyland has lost its luster.  To that end, the series should be called something more accurate, like The Making of the Movies That Made Us, etc.  But even that would set the expectation that you’d see more than talking heads interspersed with fuzzy snapshots from productions of the past.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If there is a bigger Trivial Pursuit fan I don’t know who it is.  Whether it was the classic 1981 Genus Edition, the 1983 Silver Screen edition, the 1984 Genus II edition, the 1989 1980s edition, the 1992 10th Anniversary Edition, the 1994 Genus III, the 1996 Genus IV, or 1998 Millennium Edition, or the dozens of tie-ins and card deck supplements since, you can pretty much count me in anytime.  But the latest may be the most fun yet.  Adding to the Stranger Things season three Hasbro Gaming tie-ins Dungeons & Dragons, Monopoly, Ouija board, Screen Test, and an Eggo card game is an all-new throwback 1980s version of Trivial Pursuit I thought I was a Trivial Pursuit purist, but the new Stranger Things Back to the ’80s Trivial Pursuit convinced me that the classic game had some problems and they’ve now been fixed.

The questions come from movies, TV, music, people, events, technology, fashion, sports, and more, and that classic orange sports/wild card category is now questions about your knowledge of the Stranger Things universe.  Don’t worry, that last category will be easy to dodge for anyone at the game table not familiar with the series, but new rules and gameplay also make it possible to give anyone a leg up toward an ultimate win.  “Roll again” spaces are gone, meaning there’s more time answering questions and less time rolling multiple times per turn.  You still need six wedges to win, but you no longer need a pie wedge from each category, so the game time is shorter.  If you aren’t a pro in any given category, you’re also no longer hamstringed into riding out a losing game because of the new “walkie talkie a friend” feature.  As with the Who Wants to be a Millionaire gameshow concept, so long as you’re not playing in Upside Down mode, you can enlist a helper, and if you win, share the spoils with a pie wedge for both players.

 

The Upside Down is an easy, clever board add-on that allows the entire board to be switched from real world mode to the dark Upside Down the series is famous for.  When you’re in the Upside Down you can lose pie wedges by answering incorrectly, and you can’t ask a friend for help.  It fits the Stranger Things story, and it further helps level the playing field among a diverse group of players.

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